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Message on Recent Events in Israel

05/12/2021 01:22:02 PM


Rabbi Fred Greene

I am among the many here in America whose heart is breaking. I am so deeply saddened to see renewed attacks on innocents as Hamas shoots rockets into Israeli cities. I am disheartened by the challenges in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah as Israeli Jewish extremists try to use the law to evict Palestinian residents from their homes. I am concerned when Jews in Israel and America -- my community, my people -- return to simple phrases without looking at the nuances of conflict, history, memory, trauma, and politics. 

My role in the congregation is to lead, to teach, to pray, and to shine a light on what I consider ultimate, faithful truths. The truth that I glean from our tradition is that people are dying, human beings are hurting, and the wounds are not only physical. 

I am a Zionist -- I believe in the integrity of a Jewish, democratic state that embodies hope and justice. 

I am a religious Zionist -- my Reform Jewish outlook requires of me to see God's Presence in the work of building a Jewish state based on Jewish ethics and values, not only a Jewish majority. While many consider a "religious Zionist" to be only Orthodox Jews, it is my Judaism that builds the foundation of my connection to the Land, People, and State of Israel. 

I believe that every life is precious. Period. 

How do I bring these three strands together to share what I consider "ultimate truths" about Israel, the Palestinians, and peace that I should share with my congregation? What I can offer is to direct you all to expand your thinking and listen. Listen to the folks on the right and left, try to glean what is true for you. Hear different perspectives, consider our spiritual values and memories, and... to quote Israeli writer Sarah Tuttle-Singer, "Before weighing in, please: Think once is it kind. Think twice is it helpful. Think a third time is it necessary." I do believe that America's Jews and Jewish community need to respond to these difficult situations. We have a voice. But it needs to be a thoughtful one that will contribute to something meaningful, worthy of God's Presence. 

If you are unfamiliar with these issues, if thoughts your thoughts are unclear, here are a few things that I believe are particularly valuable to help us see the nuances of what is going on. 

I hope that these are helpful messages to understand what is happening. To my family, colleagues, and friends, I pray for your safety and resilience. My prayer for the inhabitants of the region has always been the same... peace. 

 שַׁאֲלוּ שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם יִשְׁלָיוּ אֹהֲבָיִךְ׃ יְהִי־שָׁלוֹם בְּחֵילֵךְ שַׁלְוָה בְּאַרְמְנוֹתָיִךְ.

Shaalu sh'lom Y'rusahlayim yishlayu ohavaich: Y'hi shalom b'cheilech, shalvah b'armenotaich.

Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem; May those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels. (Psalm 122:6-7)

L'shalom/Let us move toward peace.

Rabbi Fred Greene

Tue, April 16 2024 8 Nisan 5784